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Appraisals following an Earthquake

Appraisals following an Earthquake

When you people think of Utah, they don’t usually think of it as “Earthquake Country”.  However, after last week’s 5.7 quake in Magna and the subsequent aftershocks ranging from 3.0 to 4.6, Utah residents are quickly learning of the earthquake potential in Utah.  The 5.7 earthquake was the largest in Utah in almost 30 years and the first major earthquake in the Salt Lake Valley in recorded history. While it appears everyone came out alive and unharmed, let’s hope it’s at least another 30 years before we have to experience anything like this.  It can be a traumatic experience enduring an earthquake and all of its aftershocks. While earthquakes may not happen as often as they do in California, it seems many are now wondering an appraiser’s role following an earthquake. Here are some things to remember when having an appraiser from Aspen Appraisal Group visit during Utah’s “Earthquake Season”.  

First and foremost it is important to remember what an appraiser is there to do when they visit your home.  They are there to determine the fair market value of the property. They are not a contractor, a home inspector or an expert in engineering.  An appraiser will do a visual inspection of areas that are accessible. The appraiser cannot guarantee the integrity of the structure. If there are concerns about the structural integrity of your home following an earthquake, an expert in this field should be consulted.  

While the appraiser may not be testing the foundation of your home or climbing through and inspecting your attic, they will be extensively looking over the exterior and interior of your home.  The appraiser will be sure to document whether or not any visible damage has taken place on the surface of the home. Visual abrasions such as cracks in the walls, or foundation or any other stand out structural damage will be noted in the appraiser’s report.  Our Aspen Appraiser will also be sure to take extensive photos so they’ll be able to document exactly what they saw at the time of their appraisal.  And of course, we’ll be sure to note any repairs or renovations that have been made to your home if such was needed following any seismic activity.

Finally, it’s important that you know, our appraisers are not seismologists. With this recent earthquake in Magna, it seems a lot of people have become “experts” in seismology. We do not make that claim.  Therefore we can’t determine your home’s value based on if you live near a fault line or if the home meets the city’s requirements in regards to seismic details. Unless the appraiser has been previously with a report on geologic or seismic studies of the area with regard to the property or the area surrounding the property, the appraiser cannot assume responsibility for whatever possible seismic effect there might be on the property they’re appraising.  

All of us here at Aspen Appraisal Group are aware of the new concerns and curiosities that come with an unusual natural event like an earthquake.  We can assure you that our appraisers will always give you the best appraisal of your home Whether it be in times of quarantine or new seismic activity, we’ll be there to ensure the best value of your home.     

If there are any questions, comments, or additional information you can provide on this subject, please share in the comments below.  And for more information on receiving an appraisal on your property please email us at [email protected]

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